Mirror Me Diversity rates diversity in YA books in three parts: quality, diversity, and individual impact. Based on a survey at the Ethel Walker School, the following books were chosen as the top six in all fields, making each a good quality and diverse read, especially for teens during the summer. Read more about how we chose these books
Six of Crows
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a fantasy YA book with characters of color, sexuality and gender diversity, and religious diversity. Each character's diversity is incorporated into the plot as a characteristic of character.
Here's what a member of our team had to say about this book: "If you enjoy fantasy books but wish that the protagonist wasn't always the same, white, young, straight, male, Six of Crows is perfect for you, and you'll find more diversity in the Six of Crows duology than you might find in any other teen fantasy collection."
Amelia H. 16 years old
The Sun is Also a Star
The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon is a romance and coming of age YA book including characters of color and religious diversity. The characters' diversity are incorporated into the plot as general signs of struggle.
Here's what a member of our team had to say about this book: "For those who love reading romance and are tired of reading the same storyline of characters who are the same race falling in love, then this book is for you. It has the struggle of being African in a white-rich cultured society, and also steps out of the race norm with the main character falling in love with someone who is of a different race from them. This book will bring out many emotions and is worth reading."
Ku P. 15 years old
Caucasia by Danzy Senna is a coming of age YA book including characters of color, and characters with sexuality and gender diversity. The main character talks of her family who are both white and black. Additionally, there are a lot of queer female characters in the story and they often provide guidance to the main character. The characters' diversity are incorporated as both signs of struggle and characteristics of character.
Here's what a member of our team had to say about this book: "It is holistic view of race in America and the struggles that all members of marginalized groups face. “Caucasia” gives insight to those that do not have a voice and discussing issues that in the black community and beyond it."
Grace M. 16 years old
Binti by Nnedi Okorafor is a science fiction, adventure and action, and thriller YA book including characters of color and gender diversity. The characters' diversity are incorporated into the plot as general signs of struggle. The main character, Binti, is young woman who belongs to the Himba tribe, or the indigenous peoples of northern Namibia (but set in an Afrofuturistic setting.) Binti, her identity, and culture were the main focus of the story. Her struggles with her identity were what made her the heroine of her story and save the entire human race.
Here's what a member of our team had to say about this book: "Besides offering up a thrilling sci-fi read, "Binti" gives a sense of relatability when it comes to feeling like the 'other' and insight on how others might feel being treated as the 'other' by society."
Joyce K. 15 years old
Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie is a coming of age YA book including characters of color and gender diversity. The characters' diversity are incorporated into the plot as both general signs of struggle and characteristics of character. This novel is essentially the story of Ifemelu's journey moving from Nigeria to the US. It tackles conversations like comparing what it means to be Black and what it means to be a Black woman in the US versus in Nigeria, from her experiences and perspectives. The novel also discusses class and classism in the US compared to Nigeria.
Here's what a member of our team had to say about this book: "Ifemelu does go deep into many of the injustices she faces, but it is also, at times, simply a book about her day to day life, which I think makes it simultaneously a "signal of struggle" and "characteristic of character.""
Alaina V. 17 years old
Sasha Masha by Agnes Borinsky is a romance and coming of age YA novel including characters with LGBTQ+ identities and gender diversity. The main character is transgender while many other supporting characters identify under the general LGBTQ+ umbrella. The storyline focuses on the main character’s transition, so many of the other characters’ decisions and interactions with one another are related to that. Therefore, the diversity is included in the plot as both a signal of struggle and as a characteristic of the character.
Here is what a member of our team had to say about this novel: I [Molly] did not relate to this book personally, but it did offer me new insight. This novel is a quick read, but the sense of community that the characters have with one another is very inspiring. “As the main character begins to transition, she is supported by friends, both new and old. The story will help anyone think more about the support network they have as well, or how they can be of more support for others.”
14 years old